Academic achievement

Why should schools spend time on social and emotional learning programmes such as Zippy's Friends? Shouldn't they be focusing on more academic subjects?

There is growing evidence that programmes such as Zippy's Friends can actually improve children’s academic achievement.

Aleisha Clarke and Prof Margaret Barry of the Health Promotion Research Centre at the National University of Ireland, Galway, have reviewed the evidence on behalf of Partnership for Children.  They looked not just at Zippy’s Friends but at Social and Emotional Learning programmes in general.

They conclude that such programmes significantly improve children’s academic performance. In fact, the largest and most rigorous study to date, involving more than 300,000 children, found that ‘evidence-based programmes are intimately linked to improving children’s academic performance.’

They also found that such programmes are most effective when they are targeted at younger children, and when they are taught by class teachers, rather than by outside experts.

Clarke and Barry’s review, which is published exclusively on this website, is a useful, easy-to-read response to anyone who thinks that programmes such as Zippy’s Friends are a distraction from more academic subjects.